Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"really in need"

That phrase (repeated in 5:3,5,16) is probably the biggest take-away from my lesson in I Timothy 5:1-16 last weekend.

The passage speaks to a big problem/deal-- biblically and historically. Women married relatively early and men had shorter lifespans. No Social Security, no pensions, etc. The topic is addressed in the Law-- most notably through the fascinating provision of "levirate marriage", but also the repeated emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable in Jewish society, including widows. The prophets spoke to this when widows were mistreated. Jesus talked about this-- and it is a key feature in the development of the early church (Acts 6; Jas 1:27).

But how to do it? The local church must balance its responsibility to be good stewards along with the need to be generous as appropriate. Or combining the two, by identifying those "really in need", the church would be better able to assist the truly needy.

What is true for charity also holds for welfare. Marvin Olasky, in his seminal
The Tragedy of American Compassion, lays out the history of American charity and welfare efforts-- and then advocates the use of "categorization and discernment" in dealing with the needy.

Finally, note the strength of Paul's words in I Timothy 5:8. You can dismiss some of the weight as hyperbole, but the fact is that such hypocrisy and failure to care for the needy reflects poorly on the supposed faith of the self-proclaimed believer as well as the church and the Church.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home